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Tips for physicians to engage patients in their own care

As I've learned from dance and yoga teacher training, the gift of a good instructor lies not simply in how much knowledge she may possess or even how well she communicates it, but by how the student progresses as a result of their encounter. I thought of the teacher-student relationship when reading a post on about a different sort of personal exchange - the one between a doctor and patient.

Cardiac electrophysiologist David Lee Scher, MD, outlines five ways physicians can better engage patients in their health so that medical advice dispensed during an office visit gets put to use in a patient's everyday life for the long term. Tips include bedside-manner recommendations and effective use of technology as well as involving caregivers in a plan.

From the post:

2. Improve the patient and caregiver knowledge base. Much of patient behavior is driven by fear of the unknown. The purpose of each test and what it entails, the overall suggested plan, the possible diagnoses and their probabilities should all be touched upon. This need not be done in great detail but in a way in which the patient gets the overall picture. The reason for each medication prescribed and its most common potential side effects is something not always done, leaving patients with prescriptions and many questions even five minutes after leaving the office. A well-informed patient is the best patient.

And if you learn best through the combination of audio, visual and kinesthetic cues, check out this video of "The Cardiac Dance | The Spirals of Life," which uses movement to explain the structure and function of a healthy or diseased heart.

Previously: “You belong here”: A recap of Stanford Medicine XWhy engaging patients in their own care benefits the health-care systemPersonal essays highlight importance of cost-conscious medical decisions and Alan Greene talks about Medicine 2.0 and the future of doctor-patient communication

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